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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

How to win Florida: Hillary Clinton's organization? or Donald Trump's 'movement' and big rallies?



How Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are approaching the job of winning America's biggest battleground state is a study in contrasts.

To Team Clinton, organizing is everything.

To the unconventional Team Trump, big rallies rule. "We're running a unique campaign in the sense that we can draw 15,000 people together at a time," said Karen Giorno, Florida­based senior adviser on the Trump campaign.

"There are over 40,000 people that we've touched in the last two weeks with just four events. . . . We have a movement. Hillary Clinton is struggling to get people moving in her direction."

As anxious party leaders await a more conventional Florida campaign apparatus by Trump — field offices, paid organizers and TV ads that Giorno says are coming soon — the Clinton campaign is methodically building a massive get­out­the­vote effort. Clinton and her Democratic allies have spent nearly $22 million on TV ads in Florida, according to an NBC News tally. Trump allies have spent less than $1.6 million.

Clinton has opened 14 offices statewide: Ybor City, Lakeland, east Orlando, Sanford, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Port St. Lucie, Lake Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Wynwood (Miami), Miami Gardens, Fort Myers, Naples — and has her Florida headquarters in the Town 'N Country section of Tampa. Trump so far only has a headquarters in Sarasota, though the campaign plans to open two dozen more offices in the next two or three weeks.

Mail voting for the general election starts in early October. Clinton and the Democratic National Committee have at least 200 paid campaign workers in Florida, at least twice that of Trump and the Republican National Committee. 

Inside Clinton's nearly invisible warehouse office off Anderson Road in Tampa recently, at least two dozen twentysomething workers hunched over laptops and spoke on cell phones. Assorted handmade signs hang over the desks designating areas of focus: DATA. COALITIONS. ORGANIZING. TRIPS. DIGITAL. INTERNS.

"I'm an organizer and everybody in these offices is an organizer," Marlon Marshall, the Clinton campaign's director of states/political engagement, said in Tampa, having finished up visits to several Florida campaign offices. 

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[Last modified: Saturday, August 13, 2016 11:15am]


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